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Toledo Lounge sold, new owners bring more beer and new menu, more matzo balls on the way

February 17, 2011 - 06:00 AM
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Toledo Lounge sold, new owners bring more beer and new menu

Toledo Lounge
has been sold to the owners of Black Squirrel and Ventnor Cafe. The news about the Adams Morgan bar, located at 2435 18th St. NW, was reported by Prince of Petworth yesterday morning, and later confirmed by the bar’s original owners Mary and Stephanie Abbajay.

In an e-mail to PoP, the Abbajays, who are sisters, write, “It’s been a fantastic run, but it’s time to turn the old girl over to some new blood. Jon (my partner and the Lounge’s GM for the past 8 years) and I are confident that the new owners — Tom, Scott and Amy — will keep the Lounge spirit alive, and we wish them well. Long live the Lounge!”

Black Squirrel co-owner Amy Bowman says they don’t plan on making too many changes to the well-known watering hole. “It’s got great bones and a great vibe,” she says during our phone conversation yesterday. “We love Toledo Lounge the way that it is. We’re just going to spiffy it up a bit.”

Bowman, who’s taking over the 17-year-old bar with her husband and Black Squirrel co-owner Tom Knott, and Ventnor Cafe owner Scott Auslander, says she plans on adding a new beer list that’ll include American craft brews. She says she’s aiming for something similar to Quarry House Tavern, Jackie Greenbaum’s Silver Spring dive bar on Georgia Avenue. The menu will be revamped as well. Black Squirrel chef Gene Sohn will take Toledo’s traditional bar fare of nachos, fries, and wings up a notch and feature casual modern American items similar to Black Squirrel’s.

Bowman expects the renovations to be completed within 3 to 4 weeks.

CommonWeath sold, new owner renames and expands bar

A couple of neighborhoods over, the owners of another watering hole have decided to sell as well. According to a news release, Chef Jamie Leeds and her business partner, Sandy Lewis, are planning to sell their Columbia Heights gastropub, CommonWealth, later this month. The British-themed restaurant, located at 1400 Irving St. NW, is being sold to Terry Cullen of Irving Street Restaurant Group.

Cullen, who is also the owner of the upcoming Lou's City Bar, set to open next month in Columbia Heights, plans to replace the space with a similar pub-focused concept, but expand the bar area and change its name, reports the Washington Business Journal. The new concept is expected to debut in May.

The sale will allow Leeds to focus on the expansion of her first restaurant, Hanks Oyster Bar, in Dupont Circle. The long-fought plans will expand her eatery, located at 1624 Q St. NW, into the adjacent space at 1622 Q St. The renovations will bring additional seats to her outdoor patio.

More on Lou’s City Bar

As mentioned in the above item, Terry Cullen’s Columbia Heights sports bar, Lou’s City Bar, is scheduled to open next month. The 4,000-square-foot space sits at 1400 Irving St. NW. According to PoP, the menu will feature some traditional American dishes, such as burgers, steaks, and prime rib. A selection of specialty sandwiches will also be available. For brews, the list will include seasonal beers from local breweries, as well as mainstream beers.
• Photos: Lou’s City Bar (PoP)

Chefs move to new restaurants

Tom Sietsema announced a few of new moves for local chefs during yesterday’s chat...

• Executive chef Bryan Moscatello is leaving Zola after five years. He tells Sietsema the concept has changed and he’s ready for something different. In regard to his next position, Moscatello says, “I want to do great food in a great little restaurant. If that happens to be in D.C., awesome.” Moscatello’s last day is this Friday.

Eric Fleischer will be taking Moscatello’s spot at the head of the kitchen. Fleischer was hired last  November to assist the head chef. Karen Corbin, the company’s COO, says Fleischer will revamp the menu so that it’s more accessible, while retaining all the positives.

•  Peter Smith, the former general manager of J & G Steakhouse and general manager of Potenza, has been promoted to director of all Stir Food Group's restaurants.

• Chef Wes Morton has left AgainnDC to become the executive chef for Art Smith’s Capitol Hill restaurant, Art & Soul.

Opening Friday: Bubby's New York Deli

Bethesda’s Uptown Deli will soon be getting a little competition. Bubby’s New York Deli is opening its doors at 4866 Cordell Ave., just around the corner from the Uptown. Bubby’s owner Jeff “Louie” Manas plans to serve similar New York favorites, such as pastrami sandwiches and matzo ball soup. So what does Uptown Deli owner Howard Wasserman have to say about all this? In an interview with Bethesda Patch, Wasserman says, “The best quality and best service will win out in the end.”  Manas originally planned to debut today, however, he’s taking an extra day to work on some final details. Bubby’s will be open on Friday for lunch and dinner service.

In other food and restaurant news...

• American Tap Rooms looks at how to succeed when Sette Bellow failed. (TBD)

• A new barbecue truck is on the way. BBQ Bus DC is planning out this April. (Food Truck Fiesta)

• In the brick and mortar world, Khan’s Bar & Grill is opening at the corner of 12th and H St. NE. According to PoP, the new eatery is a Mongolian BBQ concept. The restaurant is aiming to debut in March.

• Guess who spends $70,000 a year dining out? Hint: He’s local and writes about food. (Eater)

From TBD’s Community Network

Bitches Who Brunch: Review: Agora brunch
We Love DC: Review: Haute pizza at POV
EatMore DrinkMore: Review: Yola

Plan Ahead -- Upcoming food and drink events

• Feb. 15-27 -- National Harbor Restaurant Week
• Feb. 17 -- Chocolate lovers day celebration
• Feb. 17 -- Happy Hour Fundraiser for Reach for College

Sweet Deals

• Feb. 1-28 --  Free drink at Buddha Bar
• Feb. 7-27 -- Free Coffee Days
• Free Taco Bell taco if you “like” them on Facebook (h/t Gut Check)

Find a food truck

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